Marine Le Pen said Friday at a rally of the anti-immigrant National Front that there were “ten to fifteen” places in France where Muslims worshipped in the streets outside mosques when these were full.
“For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it’s about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory,” she said at the gathering in Lyon.
“It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. It’s an occupation,” she said at the rally that was part of her bid to take the party leadership when her father steps down in January.
“There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents,” the 42-year-old noted.
The comments sparked condemnation from politicians from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party and from the opposition Socialists and the Greens.
“This is the true face of the far right which has not changed in the slightest, and Marine Le Pen is just as dangerous as Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Socialist Party spokesman Benoit Hamon said Saturday.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said Saturday that Marine Le Pen’s comments were “insulting towards the Muslims of France” and were an “incitement to hatred and violence against them.”
On Sunday, an anti-racist group said it planned to file a civil lawsuit against her. “Comparing Muslims to an army of occupation is humiliating. To be treated like invaders, like fascists, that is just not possible,” said Mouloud Aounit, head of the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP).